By Deb Everts
Tucked in the hillside on the outskirts of Little Valley is Mager Mountain Alpacas owned by Paul and Sue Mager. They invite the public to visit their farm for National Alpaca Farm Days on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
During the open house, people can learn all about the history of alpacas, alpaca farming, and they’ll have hands-on opportunities. Local fiber artist Nancy Blessing will be demonstrating yarn spinning and fiber processing throughout the weekend. There will be tours and a viewing area where visitors can see the three new babies (crias). They will also enjoy the farm’s So Soft Gift Shop with lots of yarn and quality alpaca goods. There will be a free drawing for an alpaca garment to recognize the weekend event.
Paul said their alpacas are quite friendly, so people can get up close and personal with them and watch the babies run around and play. He said a cria was born earlier this month and it’s a rare rose gray, which is very difficult to get. According to Paul, only seven-percent of alpacas are gray and, among them, even rarer are the rose grays.
“We get a lot of pleasure from working with the animals and watching the babies. They hit the ground running so, for the first three or four months of their lives, they run around and play and jump in the air. It’s called ‘pronking’ when they leap in the air with all fours and sometimes twist,” he said. “They chase each other like they are playing tag and it’s very amusing to watch.”
The Magers have owned and operated Mager Mountain Alpacas for 16 years. Paul said they have been raising alpacas longer than anyone in the local area — so long that most of their herd was born on the farm. He said their animals are not afraid of humans and are more friendly than the average alpaca. Their alpaca farm is a popular destination for school children eager to have a hands-on experience with the animals.
According to Paul, when they first started their farm and people came, some had never heard of alpacas. He said the first thing they would ask was, “what do you do with them?” He said now people know about them and understand what they are for because there are a lot of alpaca farms around.
“We currently have 23 alpacas including four babies [crias] and two llamas that tend to be a little protective of the alpaca they guard,” he said. “If we leave the one llama in the area and she sees the alpaca go over to the fence to visit people, a lot of times she will get between the alpacas and the people, spit and carry on. If she’s being naughty, we sometimes have to separate her from the rest.”
Paul and Sue really enjoy meeting people — both those who come to the farm to see the animals, as well as those who have bought alpacas from them. He said they really specialize in mentoring new farms in learning how to handle the animals and they try to mitigate any issues that can come from new people trying to handle an alpaca that isn’t naturally friendly.
“Ours are very friendly because Sue is very hands-on with them as soon as they are born,” he said. “She weighs them everyday to make sure they are gaining weight and everything is fine.They’ve gotten so they are not as afraid of people as alpacas’ natural nature is, which is to fear people.”
Mager Mountain will be open during regular business hours offering visitors an extra day during this special weekend. For additional information, call 938-9077 or visit online at magermountainalpacas.com and Facebook.
Also during the weekend in the area, A Slice of Heaven Alpacas, in Randolph, will be open Sept. 29 only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Owners Mike and Sue Bean will offer tours of the alpaca areas where people can see their animals.
Helen and Timm Herman of Ellicottville are participating in the Alpaca Farm Days event both Saturday and Sunday. They welcome visitors to Sugartown Farms, located at 6277 Sugartown Road, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that weekend.
During National Alpaca Farm Days weekend, each alpaca farm will offer different attractions, demonstrations and activities. A map of participating farms can be found online at alpacainfo.com, but please note that not all participating alpaca farms are listed.